“CANCER”, indeed a word associated with a lot of anxiety, a feeling of doom and helplessness.
Part of this feeling is due to lack of awareness among the masses regarding the condition and its
We all are aware of breast, ovarian, lung and many more cancers in adults ….. but do children
suffer from cancer?
Yes, children do have cancer And CHILDHOOD CANCERS ARE CURABLE.
Every 3 minute a child is diagnosed with cancer worldwide. They are also a major cause of mortality in Indian children due to lack of awareness and myths associated with the condition in the society.
Some of the myths prevalent in the society are –
1. Cancers in children are infectious and can spread to another child.
2. There is no cure for childhood cancers.
3. Children with cancers have a shortened life span ..
As opposed to these myths the reality is the opposite –
• Childhood cancers are not contagious .
• Most of these can be treated with surgery , chemotherapy +/- radiotherapy and carry a good chance of cure.
• These children once cancer free can go on to lead a normal healthy life as their peers .
So, where lies the gap ?? The gap lies in early detection, timely referral and receiving a complete surgical and Onco therapy.
The most common age group affected with childhood cancers is 0-5 years of age. Some of the gonadal tumors are also seen between 12-15 years of age . Tumors which are seen at birth or with in 1 month of the birth of the child are called as neonatal Tumors. Most of these Tumors are benign and carry an excellent prognosis.
Some of the common solid tumors in children are wilms ( involving the kidney ), Neuroblastoma ( involving the adrenal medulla ), gonadal tumors ( testicular/ ovarian ) and soft tissue sarcomas.
Some of the early signs which act as pointers of these tumors are –
Mass per abdomen
Unexplained fever + pallor
Persistent lymph node mass
Scrotal swelling / mass
Bleeding per vaginum
When detected early, after proper radiological investigations most of these tumors are amenable to surgical resection. Surgery followed by chemotherapy can help in the complete cure of the disease and render the child cancer free.
A team comprising of Pediatric Surgeon, Pediatric oncologist, radiologist and radiotherapist helps in proper diagnosis and treatment of these children.
So, next time you see these signs in your child … do not panic …consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and further management.